Monday, January 26, 2009


Monday, January 26, 2009

As I wait now for my books and first pieces of material to arrive, I have decided to begin thinking about the artwork from which I can create my fretboard inlay and carving.

After a bit of pondering, I think I have a cool idea and plan for how this can look. Rather than opting for the traditional scroll on the body, I want to make this a solid “knob” and then hand-carve an image on it. I tossed around several ideas including a lion’s head, a snake’s head (my wife absolutely HATED the snake idea - oh well), a humming bird, and so on, until I finally settled on an English Ivy theme. I use the word theme here because not only will I carve a leafy vine “growing” out from the edge of the scroll, but I will also create an apparent continuation of the vine up the fretboard and onto the peghead with my inlay work.

Below is a sketch I came up with to show what I am talking about.

While I still have to work out the details, my plan is this; With the exception of the size and shape of the wooden block under the scroll, I will go ahead with the build, just like it was going to have a normal scroll, right up to the point where I glue the top on to the sides. At that point I will glue it up, just like normal everywhere else, but leave the scroll section without any glue. This will let me come back later and carefully cut the top wood of the scroll piece off so it can be replaced with the carved scroll. Before that, though, I will go ahead and complete everything I have to up to and including routing the sides for the binding. Once this routing is done, I am then ready to cut out the scroll piece. That should give me the exact size and shape into which to fit the carving. Like I say, there are clearly some details to work out yet, but that the plan right now.

Just in case you don’t know what I am talking about when I refer to the “wooden block under the scroll”, let me explain. If you were to look at the interiors of the boxes of both the typical A-style and F-style mandolins, you would notice that they are very similar and the sides continuous. The reason for this is the fact that the scroll and points on the F-style are simply cosmetic, offering nothing to the acoustics of the instrument. Furthermore, as if to guarantee this, the scroll and points are “filled” with solid wood (well, the point are, but the scroll is pretty close with typically just a wee bit of air space left). For my build, I will probably make the block under the scroll fill the entire cavity so that I have a firm base on which to glue my carving.

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